Business Improv

{idea meet box}


Creativity is a tough thing to nail down, like a shadow chased by the sun. If you believe that you do not have it, you will not receive it. You can't steal it, borrow it or pay a handsome price for it. Like a riddle, even those who posses it do not a retain a patent on it. 

Lets test your creativity - try to connect all nine dots by only drawing 4 connected lines. Good Luck. 好运.


{business improv} 

As a practitioner of business improvisation, I have come to learn that creativity has application in every business function. Don't believe me? The financier, for example, relies on improvisation to explain tough financial concepts to clients on the fly. Even the analyst must develop creative insights into complex datasets, improvising possible explanations to numerical phenomenon. 

Then there’s this expectation starting to creep into the media: “Big data will solve all our problems! We don’t need doctors. We’ll know how to cure cancer.” That has caused this dangerous idea that we don’t need creativity anymore. As someone who works with data intensely, I find that scary. Data will tell you whether to pick A or B, but it will never tell you what A and B are in the first place.
— Hillary Mason, Bitly Cofounder

 Improvisation is about functioning at the height of your logical and creative IQ in the blink of an eye. In our weekly workshops we focus on decision-making, teamwork and communication. Although we agree that research and preparation have its place, every modern international business professional should be able to think cooly on their feet. Improvisation above all is about creativity - problem solving and innovating free from the constraints of convention (because when you think fast enough you tend to forget them).

This is me and my team giving a business improv presentation during a Toastmasters Charity Dinner at Thunderbird School for Global Management. Please find the PowerPoint for this presentation here.

{do's and dont's} 

Forget the Checkbook. Studies show that there is no correlation between innovation and pay rate - Apple engineers are notoriously paid around industry average. In fact if I had rewarded you with 20$ for solving the nine dot puzzle from above, you would have been statistically less likely to solve it. (Here is the solution by the way.)

Einstellung Effect. Don't solve new problems with old solutions. The Einstellung Effect is doing just that - you should avoid it. The solutions that business problems of today demand exist way outside the box. You can train your brain to work around such traps with certain exercises. Expert chess players, for example, exhibit the ability to adapt to new situations rather then always repeating old strategies.